Thursday, February 20, 2014

Life of Pi


            In 2012 a movie was made after a fantasy novel called Life of Pi. This story is about an Indian boy who survives a shipwreck, and is stranded in the ocean on a lifeboat with a zebra, an orangutan and a Bengal tiger. This movie has become very well known for its striking animation and visual effects and even won an Oscar for visual effects in 2013.
The scene that I believe displays these special effects so well is when the boy and the tiger fight over a fish, while hundreds of fish are whizzing through the air. In this scene, more of the surroundings are animated than one would think. The calm movements of the ocean, the ocean’s color, the tiger, and even the fish that are swimming and flying are all animated. The interesting part about this movie’s animation is the artistic and slightly cartoonist color and texture of the animated objects. The ocean, for example, is extremely calm, peaceful and clear. If one were stranded in the middle of the ocean, the waves would be much bigger and dramatic and the colors of the water would be much darker and mysterious. The colors of the flying fish and the large game fish that land in the boat are exaggerated and enhanced which makes the fish look more artistic than realistic. Some may argue that this exaggerated animation makes the film less realistic and less appealing. I believe, however, that the purpose of these overly animated special effects was not to invoke a realistic depiction of an ocean, but to enhance the romanticism of a boy surviving a shipwreck with a vicious tiger. Another purpose of this type of animation is to make the vast ocean much more visually exciting. An ocean can only be so scenic, but the animation present in this film turns the story into a real fantasy, “If William Shakespeare were alive today, he would be enthralled by the ability of computer-generated imagery (CGI) to create fantastic, brave new worlds, where the magical is commonplace” (Understanding Movies 33). In a more realistic marine setting, the crashing waves and lack of color would not be as attractive to viewers. The animation turns this movie into a piece of art rather than a documentary.
Another noticeable animated feature in this scene is the tiger. The tiger is quite astounding for being completely made on a computer. Not only are the tiger’s physical characteristics realistic, but the movements as well. The tiger’s movements are fluent and fierce, as it even swims in the ocean in another scene. In contrast to the cartoonist effect of the other animated objects, such as the fish and water, this tiger is realistic and fearsome in order to emotionally appeal to the audience. As the boy and the tiger fight, the realistic animation and exquisite detail of the tiger allows the audience to experience the same anxious feelings as the boy. If the tiger were unrealistically animated like the other objects in this scene, this emotional appeal would not be successful.

This unique animation style enhances the film by emphasizing the romantic theme of the story and emotionally appealing to the audience. Without these effects, this movie would be rather boring. The producers of this movie handled the fact that this story takes place mainly in the ocean wonderfully. If they had left out the edgy and beautiful animation features, the audience would be looking at a continuous ocean the entire time. This film has already won an Oscar, but I think that my rating is even more important. 5 slurpees for the use and application of visual effects.

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